Small World.

So I’m sitting in a Pub way up in Aberdeen.

The corner of Scotland. Having a drink at Ma Cameron’s on Friday night and the place is packed. I’ve just taken a four-hour bus ride to see my good friend Kieran for an archaeology conference, and we’re prepping for a day in the lecture hall by watering ourselves well and meeting a whole group of undergrads that had just finished University that very same day. Needless to say, they were mostly smashed via mental exhaustion and exaltation, mixed with great amounts of beer and whisky.

And I’m sitting next to this English guy, who doesn’t say anything to me for the first hour or so that I’m there, instead letting me engage with some of the other folk sitting around the table, their wits directly mirrored by the remaining level of libation within the glasses in front of them. Finally, and with what looked like great pains through half-slitted eyes and a cloud of cheap cigar smoke, English speaks.

Alex: So where you from in the States?
Funky: Ah, San Francisco.
Alex: Oh? Cool. I went to school near there. In Marin County.
Funky: *conniption* What? Really? I spent a good chunk of my life in San Rafael!
Alex: No way, man – I went to San Rafael High, and then Marin Catholic.
Funky: Holy shit. That’s incredibly weird. You ever been into Gamescape on Fourth Street?
Alex: Yeah! I’ve spent some good money there in the past…
Funky: *trying to place his drunken face* Amazing.
Alex/Funky at the same time: What the hell are you doing here, then?

We proceeded to launch into a spirited recollective splendour about The Mayflower, the Pelican Inn, the bane of Double Rainbow, and the misery of the Young People of Marin County. IN ABERDEEN. This lasted the rest of the night, and our necks got a serious workout from constantly shaking our heads in disbelief. What are the chances of this, seriously?

The ARP conference was very interesting, and hosted at lovely King’s College in Old Aberdeen. Broken up into focus areas, the all-day seminar briefly touched on all the new research and discovery being undertaken in North-East Scotland, from Roman ruins and aerial photos of ancient enclosure sites to earth resistance and metal detectoring. Perhaps the most interesting section was Richard Bradley’s new work on recumbent stone circles in the Central Highlands, but I was very disappointed that he didn’t follow up his discoveries with any mention of cultural history or significance. It was like positing a theory and failing to support why it matters or the reasons behind it. So we know that the prehistoric peoples of Scotland mirrored their stone-and-lintel circles on the surrounding terrain and possibly stood within the ‘death’ area to look out on the moon.

Okay, fine. But why? And to what end? And who did it? And most importantly, how does he know this? In fact, someone in the audience challenged him with the question of how he knows they didn’t stand on the outside looking in. But it *was* an archaeology conference, not a cultural history gathering, so I suppose I should cut him some slack.

And later that evening, after a marvelous discussion and tour of the King’s College Chapel, I headed home on another four-hour bus trip back to Edinburgh. There was something weird in the air. Never before in my life have I witnessed more people in the process of puking in such a short span. From Aberdeen to Dundee to Auld Reekie, virtually everyone I passed on the street was leaking their lunches in some form or another. Great streams of chunky horror shot at me from all directions, and I wondered if these people – as a culture – had something against me. Most were rather casual about it, and some were downright oblivious to the whole experience.

This is one of the few things I won’t miss about Britain. I’m going to throw away all of my shoes when I get home.

12 Responses to “Small World.”

  1. avalokita Says:
    May 31st, 2004 at 12:20 am

    *sings* It's a small world after all…

  2. shawree Says:
    May 31st, 2004 at 2:16 am

    Bah. You should've said you were up; we even almost went into Ma's on Friday night but then didn't cos we figured it'd be too crowded!

  3. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2004 at 10:08 pm

    Drat. Sorry 'bout that. Wasn't sure about the Friday night schedule until we were actually there.
    I'm gonna be up again on the weekend of 19 June for a STASIS meeting at King's College. Wanna pop by and hit some drinks afterward with us?

  4. shawree Says:
    June 18th, 2004 at 12:24 am

    Not sure if I'll make it for the meeting as my other half is in home improvement mood. 'tis a _rare_ occurance indeed so I have to make use of it while it lasts! We should however be at the Wynd on Back Wynd, just round the corner from Ma's, from 9-ish onwards if you fancy a few drinks?

  5. original_aj Says:
    May 31st, 2004 at 2:45 am

    To steal a line from <lj user="zotz">:
    "No, it's a large world. But a very incestuous one."

  6. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2004 at 10:09 pm

    Are you implying that I'm a whore?

  7. scotis_man Says:
    May 31st, 2004 at 3:48 am

    No matter where you, there you are … 😀

  8. thedarkcyde Says:
    May 31st, 2004 at 6:35 am

    i like that you had an actual conniption when he said marin county !
    it truly is a small world.

  9. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2004 at 10:09 pm

    You should have seen it. There were brains all over the table and everything.

  10. michelchagall Says:
    May 31st, 2004 at 6:50 am

    I have an ex (from San Mateo) who ran into her uncle in St. George's Square (Glasgow) at about 5 in the morning one time. Scotland is magical for such chance meetings, though I myself had no such luck when I was over. I guess it means I should try again.

  11. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2004 at 10:11 pm

    Crazy. Glasgow is a bit more understandable, I suppose…but Aberdeen?
    Yes, you should certainly try again. As long as you don't run into the ex…or her uncle, eh?

  12. ubernacht Says:
    May 31st, 2004 at 8:45 am


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